Most women want to get pregnant and have a baby at least once in their life. But what happens when this pregnancy is unexpected? How do you prepare for this? It’s a huge challenge and that is why family planning is very important. It aims at helping you plan on how to or how not to have a child/children, and how you can prevent any unplanned pregnancies. One of the best ways to prevent unplanned pregnancies is by using contraception, also termed birth control or fertility control. There are many different types of contraceptives you can use. You should always consult your midwife or doctor regarding the best family planning method for you.
1. Fertility Awareness
Fertility Awareness can be looked at as a mental contraceptive. It refers to tracking your ovulation cycle to know the days of your menstrual cycle when you are most fertile and ovulating. If you know this, you can take further steps such as using other contraceptives during this time, while having sex, or abstaining from sex during your most fertile days. It’s fairly easy to track this cycle as there are many apps and websites which help you do so, depending on the length of your cycles. One sign of ovulation is change in consistency of cervical mucus – It becomes thicker and milky coloured.
2. Physical Barriers
Physical Barriers are those which prevent the male sperm from fusing with the female ovum. These include male condoms, female condoms, cervical caps, and a contraceptive called a diaphragm. Male condoms are thin latex sheaths which cover the penis. Female condoms are thin plastic pouches which should be inserted in the vagina before sex. A diaphragm is a latex cup which should be inserted in the vagina before sex, and should be done with the use of Spermicide (IMPORTANT). Spermicide is a chemical which kills sperm. A cervical cap is similar to a diaphragm, but smaller in size. Both of these should be left in the vagina for a few hours after intercourse (approx. 6-8 hours)
3. Hormonal Method
These include pills, injections, and vaginally rings. They prevent ovulation from occurring by regulating and controlling hormone production in the body. Consult your doctor with regard to what pill or injection to use and how to use it because incorrect administration would lead to inefficiency of these contraceptives.
4. Emergency Contraceptives
These can be used after sexual intercourse has occurred, if you have failed to take other precautions/contraceptive measures. It consists of pills also known as “the morning after” pills. They delay the egg from being released by regulating the hormone levels in your body. They must be taken within 5 days (max.) from the time of intercourse.
5. Long-term Reversible Contraceptives
As the name suggests, these are contraceptives that last a long time without you having to constantly keep them in mind or do something actively as other forms of contraception. The special feature of these are that they are reversible, so if you decide to have a child, you can reverse the effect of these contraceptives. A common example of this is an IUD or intrauterine device. It is a T shaped device that’s inserted into the uterus which prevents the sperm from coming in contact with the egg.
6. Male Sterilization
Sterilization is a permanent contraceptive measure which prevents you from being able to have a child ever again in the future. It generally involves surgery. For males, this consists of vasectomy in which the tube which delivers sperm to the urethra is either cut or blocked so that sperm cannot be released.
7. Female Sterilization
For females, this consists of tubectomy, in which the fallopian tubes are cut or blocked so as to prevent the release of the egg into the uterus and the ability of the sperm to come in contact with the egg. Therefore, this prevents fertilization from occurring.
It is important to keep in mind that most non-permanent contraceptive methods are not 100% effective, so always be prepared in case the contraceptive fails and ensure that you use the right kind of contraception after consultation with your doctor.